The plan for booster shots laid out by health officials on Wednesday applies to Americans who received both doses of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, but for the nearly 14 million who received Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose jab, the details are not yet clear.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the data behind the booster plan includes studies that demonstrated waning vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19 infection in people who received either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna two-dose shots. The rollout for those shots began months before the Johnson & Johnson vaccine received FDA authorization, however, so the data on long-term effectiveness is forthcoming.
“We also anticipate booster shots will likely be needed for people who received the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine,” the statement, attributed to the CDC’s Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the FDA’s Dr. Janet Woodcock and others, said. “Administration of the J&J vaccine did not begin in the U.S. until March 2021, and we expect more data on J&J in the next few weeks. With those data in hand, we will keep the public informed with a timely plan for J&J booster shots as well.”
Earlier clinical trial data, which was collected before the delta variant emerged, showed the Johnson & Johnson shot had 72% efficacy in preventing COVID-19 in the U.S. Last month, the company said new data demonstrated the shot induced a strong neutralizing antibody response against the delta variant, and that protection lasted through at least eight months. The data showed the shot demonstrated an 85% effectiveness against severe disease, hospital and death.
Eight months is the mark officials pinned for the booster timeline regarding mRNA vaccines, but it’s yet to be seen what they will decide for the viral vector shot. U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy stressed that the plan laid out faces review by the FDA and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) before a booster rollout can begin.